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Daily Slice: Varalli Brothers Bakery, Philadelphia
Daily Slice gives a quick snapshot each weekday of a different slice or pie that the folks at the Serious Eats empire have enjoyed lately.
Places like this are exactly what I love about Philadelphia. I've walked, biked, and driven down this block hundreds of times, but until the other week never turned my head at the right moment to notice a dark-looking corner building with some bread in the window and a taped-up paper sign that read "Varalli Bros Bakery".
Walking inside the tiny storefront, you are greeted by a friendly, flour-covered, ancient Italian man and trays of tomato pie and other baked goods. In the back, you can see the equally antique baking equipment that looks something a restauranteur would pay thousands of dollars for to put in the center of their $40 a plate Italian fusion restaurant.
Varalli's tomato pie is insanely simple. It's really just dough and sauce, no shake of cheese, and little oil if any. Barely any color on medium-thick bready dough, and a medium to thin layer of savory sauce—this is really meant to be finished at home, as suggested by the baker who told us to throw on some fresh mozzarella "or whattaver you wanna" and stick it in the oven.
What really excited me about this place were these personal-sized round tomato pies in the front window. And what I wanted to call "white pies", they just call garlic bread. The red was OK, with a very light amount of sauce it was sort of dry at room temp. Better warmed up in the oven and probably ideal with some toppings.
The garlic bread however was phenomenal and delicious on its own, soaked in olive oil and topped with garlic bits and herbs. Not the best tomato pie in the city, but a great neighborhood bakery and definitely worth a visit for the experience and that awesome garlic bread.
Varalli Bros Bakery
2134 S 10th St. Philadelphia, PA 19148 (map)
About the author: Hawk Krall is a Philadelphia-based illustrator who has a serious thing for hot dogs. Dig his dog drawings? Many of the illustrations he has created for Hot Dog of the Week are available for sale: hawkkrall.net/prints/.